One Week In…Getting Comfortable with Feeling Stupid. (Glen)

comments 4

It is always in season for old men to learn. Aeschylus

My career is built upon my ability to communicate ideas. I began as a teacher, moved into the business sector as a project manager, marketing strategist, and a corporate communications and social media director. All of these jobs have required a strong command of the English language – success could only come through the ability to express information and generate a desired response.


If you know Julie, then you know that she is no different.  She is a master at the art of conversation. She can engage with anyone and make them feel comfortable and special. Check out  the note she made so that she could practice the phrase, “Can I pet your dog.” She’s always looking for a way to connect with people.

But…now we are in Barcelona, without a good grasp on either the Spanish or Catalan language. The little ninas and ninos playing in our courtyard have a better ability to communicate than we do. In short, moving to Barcelona has made us feel stupid and that’s okay.

I must emphasize that it is not the people who have made us feel this way. The people of Barcelona are incredibly friendly and welcoming, but it’s hard for two natural communicators, like Julie and I, to not be able to string together two coherent sentences in a row.

And, this is probably the best thing that could have happened to us. We can’t wait for the great reward we’ll experience when we learn the local language. (Our immersion lessons will start next month!) Right now, my rudimentary language skills make me sound like a caveman, grunting to the merchant who gives me a razor thin slice of ham:“Me gusta jamon”, translated as “I like ham”. Wow, how incredibly insightful of me. In time however, it will be a wonderful thing to be able to chat with him about the different types of Iberico ham in his shop.

And, none of that would have happened unless we moved out of our English language comfort zone and put ourselves into this humble position. Yep, being stupid for this season, we’re okay with that.


  1. Molly Calhoun says

    Meanwhile, we are uplifted by your command of the English language as you put your experiences in words for us to share. It’ll be hard work but I think learning the local language falls in to the category of “things you’ll never regret doing.” Go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. DC to BCN says

    I learned dog in Catalan when people kept asking me “gosso o gossa” about my dog. I also learned “Seu” means sit from listening to Catalans talk to their own gossos! I am native Spanish speaker and like to say I can speak food in Catalan! If you can master the market and restaurants you’ll be fine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lezlee Knowles says

    Thank you, Glen, for capturing well the feelings the language barrier evokes. Jeff and I felt that frustration and “stupidity” when we were with Kim in Vienna and Mark in El Salvador.

    We commend the willingness of Julie and you to work so beautifully to learn both languages there. Already you are endearing yourselves to the people of Barcelona, even learning how to ask to permission to pet their dogs!

    We miss you here but are thrilled for all you are experiencing and sharing!


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